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February 23, 2024

UMMA Appoints Robin K. Williams as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) today announced the appointment of Robin K. Williams as Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Williams joins UMMA from The Contemporary Austin, where she most recently held the position of Curator. She is recognized for championing the work of a broad range of established and emerging artists and for engaging with topics of social, political, and cultural importance in our contemporary moment. At UMMA, Williams will work collaboratively with leadership to shape the museum’s modern and contemporary program, which includes recent and upcoming collaborations with artists Andrea Carlson, YehRim Lee, Philippa Hughes, Cannupa Hanska Luger, and Machine Dazzle, among numerous others. In addition to exhibition development, Williams will advance UMMA’s acquisitions strategies, create public programming to engage the museum’s campus and public communities, and support UMMA’s commitments to civic participation. She began in her new role on February 1, 2024.

“We are delighted to welcome Robin to the UMMA team. Her longstanding commitment to platforming artists, bringing forward understudied voices and practices, and actively engaging with subjects that have deep meaning for different audiences will be invaluable as we work together to push UMMA’s program in new directions,” said Olsen. “I am also particularly excited by Robin’s keen interest in exploring new opportunities for community engagement and expanding the role of museums in our society. Over the past several years, UMMA has been questioning, challenging, and exploring what it means for a museum to be truly part of its community and we are looking forward to continuing to advance these dialogues—now with Robin’s voice and perspective.”

“I am thrilled to join UMMA as the new Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. Having spent a year in Detroit earlier in my career, returning to Michigan feels like a homecoming for me,” said Williams. “I’m particularly excited about the opportunity to work with the museum’s collection and contribute to its growth, while engaging with students, faculty, and the public to contextualize art within our society. The arts are integral to both a well-rounded education and a vibrant, interconnected community. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues and stakeholders to further enhance UMMA’s role as a dynamic cultural hub.”

About Robin K. Williams
Robin K. Williams joins UMMA from The Contemporary Austin, where she most recently served as Curator. While at The Contemporary, she conceived a wide range of exhibitions, performances, programs, and projects, including artist commissions and site-specific installations. Her work actively engaged the museum’s two distinct locations—a 7,500-square-foot gallery space in downtown Austin and a 12-acre outdoor sculpture park. Among her recent exhibitions are This Land (2023), which was accompanied by a performance by Raven Chacon, featuring The Living Earth Show, titled Tremble Staves, and IN A DREAM YOU SAW A WAY TO SURVIVE AND YOU WERE FULL OF JOY (2022), which grappled with a range of critical issues relating to identity and structures of power and was accompanied by a commissioned outdoor mural by acclaimed artist Jenny Holzer. Previously, Williams held curatorial positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and Blanton Museum of Art and teaching positions at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University. She earned her Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin in 2023.

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